Senior Theses 2015

Benjamin Blemings (Adviser: Prof. William Even)

“Are Alcohol Sales at College Football Games Incident-Neutral?”

Abstract: I estimate how allowing alcohol sales at college football games affects the number of a variety of crimes using Ordinary Least Squares with university and time fixed effects. I find that allowing alcohol sales decreases DUIs, drunkenness, and assaults. Two possible explanations for these effects, I conclude, are that fans intertemporally substitute and/or skirt the ban by sneaking alcohol into the game.

Anissa Khan (Adviser: Prof. William Even)

“Minimum Wage Effects on Drug Arrests”

Abstract: The primary purpose of this study is to analyze the effect that the minimum wage has on the rate of drug related arrests in the United States. Using arrest counts as a proxy for the level of crime, this study expands and updates the sparse existing literature on crime and the minimum wage. The study uses a Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) panel data set that spans the years 1990 to 2012 and uses a fixed effects model to reach its conclusion. The study finds that an increase in the minimum wage leads to increased violent, property, drug sale, and drug possession arrests in states with a higher than average percentage of high school dropouts and a reduced rate of arrests in states with a lower than average percentage of high school dropouts.

Jason Milliken (Adviser: Prof. Gregory Niemesh)

“Long Term Effects of Early Life Malnourishment: The Bengal Famine of 1943”

Abstract: This paper examines the Bengal Famine of 1943 to explore the long run effects of severe malnutrition for those in the gestation period through one to two years of age. Although the famine was most severe and had the highest mortality in the province of West Bengal, much of India suffered during the roughly two year stretch of the famine. Regression equations utilize the variation in famine severity throughout India to estimate outcomes of people born during the famine. Our prediction is that being born into a province that relied on imports during the famine, which includes West Bengal, would result in later life outcomes worse than exporting states. We find evidence consistent with long-term impacts of famine conditions on literacy and employment outcomes. Considering a significant number of people in Bengal died during the famine, there may also be a positive bias from a culling effect.

Tam Pham (Adviser: Prof. Gerald Granderson)

“The Effect of Minimum Wage on U.S. Labor Productivity 1997-2013: The Higher, The Better?”

Abstract: Economists have analyzed the effects of minimum wage policy on the economy in terms of employment and human capital accumulation over the past decades, and have found different answers. I am using 1997-2013 state-level panel data combined in a fixed- effect (FE) model to estimate the effect of raising minimum wage rate on labor productivity. The study concludes the impact on minimum wage on labour productivity is statistically significant different depending on the proportion of minimum wage workers that state employs, and it is increasing with a share of number of minimum wage workers. Evaluate at the sample mean of 4.2 percent of workers affected by minimum wage policy, FE predicts one percent increases in minimum wage causes a 0.04 percent increase in the level of output-per-worker, but only 0.03 percent increase in the level of output-per-hour.

Chengjun Shi (Adviser: Prof. Jing Li)

“Does Exchange Rate Really Matter? A Closer Look at US Trade Deficits with China and Germany”

Abstract: Starting from 2005, China has been lowering the exchange rate from 8.3 Yuan/Dollar to 6.2 Yuan/Dollar to respond the big pressure from the US. However, reevaluating Yuan did not help improve the persistent trade deficit between China and the US. While several studies have investigated the impact of the exchange rate on the trade deficit, the results are mixed. In this paper, I adopt the Autoregressive Distributed Lag identification and include Germany as a control group to examine the impacts of the exchange rate on the trade deficit. I find that there are weak evidence in relation between the exchange rate and the trade deficit for both China and Germany cases. The US real GDP plays an essential role on solving the trade deficit problem.

David Whalen (Adviser: Prof. Deborah Fletcher)

“Much Ado About Nothing: How Much Do the Oscars Actually Matter?”

Abstract: This paper explores the effect Oscar nominations and awards have on box office-revenue. Nominations for Best Actor and Actress increase weekly revenue and extend the theatrical life of a film. A nomination for Best Screenplay increases weekly revenue but does not extend the theatrical life. Nominations for these three awards are worth over $10 million each. A Best Picture nomination decreases weekly revenue, but increases theatrical life, resulting in a net increase of only about $300,000. Winning an award in any of the categories is generally not found to have any additional benefit above the nomination effect.

John York (Adviser: Prof. Charles Moul)

“Does Effort Hurt? Evidence from International Soccer”

Abstract: This paper examines whether and how soccer teams in international tournaments choose their effort levels in a non-strategic situation. After considering various simple tests of observed variables, I utilize a costly-effort model to infer effort levels in the group stage during which teams may face different incentives regarding game outcomes. Essentially this paper attempts to model an unobservable endogenous variable, similar to how economists have inferred marginal costs in profit maximizing firms.